Here is a stunning Manhattan townhouse with an impeccable Upper East Side location and a one-of-a-kind recent renovation. The star of the property is the sinuous spiral staircase, made entirely of one piece of Corian, that rises beneath a circular skylight. Spread over eight floors (including the basement and roof terrace), there is 12,000 square feet of space in this contemporary mansion that’s come to market with an asking price of $52 million. The property is listed with Adam Modlin of the Modlin Group.
The neo-Federal townhouse was purchased in 2013 for $15 million, and then a reported $57 million was spent on renovations overseen by starchitect Roger Ferris, with art-friendly interiors by Julie Hillman Design. That means, of course, if the place sells for full ask, the owner will lose a good $20 million. But considering the owner is art dealer David Mugrabi, of the $5-billion-in-art Mugrabi family, we can’t imagine that will affect him too much. First, let’s discuss the features of this townhouse and then delve into the family scandal that propelled it onto the market.
The base of the house is marble, surmounted in higher stories with red Flemish brick, up to a glass-paneled mansard roof. Of course, every single interior fitting and finish is top of the line, from the Bulthaup cabintry to fireplaces galore to closets crafted in walnut, and bathrooms sheathed in statuary white and calacatta gold marble.
The ground floor is where you’ll find the dining room tucked behind a cavernous double-height gallery that is perfect for an art-collecting family. Just upstairs is the 35-foot-long living room, which opens to a small terrace, while the garden floor boasts the sleek kitchen and breakfast room, along with a service entrance and oversized mudroom.
The third floor is devoted entirely to the master bedroom, with two baths, a spectacular number of closets, and a dressing room. Two more en-suite bedrooms are on the fourth floor, and above that is another bedroom, plus a small sitting room, a kitchenette, and a study with a dazzling view of the city through the sloped glass roof. (Lest anyone think the staff will get tired running up and down all those stairs, never fear, there’s a leather-paneled elevator!) On top of all this is a spacious rooftop terrace, and down in the basement there’s a staff lounge with kitchenette, along with laundry facilities, several walk-in storage rooms, and a sauna.
This stunning living space was fought over in the split between owner David Mugrabi and his former wife Libbie, who have been described as having the worst divorce in New York. She’s the daughter of a New Jersey plastic surgeon. He’s the silver-spooned son of Jose Mugrabi, a Syrian-Israeli textile tycoon who is known for having the world’s largest private collection of works by Andy Warhol. He’s rumored to own 1,000 or more pieces by the Pop art icon, not to mention works by Renoir, Picasso, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. His two sons, David and his brother Tico, have extended their father’s reach as art dealers.
David tried to sell this hyper-custom townhouse several years ago, which Libbie contested. Although the couple reached a settlement in December 2020, they’ve continued to fight through the courts. He complained that she needed to return some artworks she’d taken without permission, as well as a Ferrari and a Porsche. And she, who’s compared herself to Princess Diana, accused him of assaulting her when she tried to remove a $500,000 Keith Haring sculpture from this house. She also claimed he tried to palm off a Basquiat and a Warhol with water damage on her.
Rich people—doncha just love them? But don’t cry for either of these two: David has his father’s billions to fall back on, whereas Libbie has a very generous settlement as well as a nine-bedroom house in the Hamptons hamlet of Water Mill.